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The Fog

by Juniper

This one is for my baby sister, who I'll never forget. It's a true story.


WHEN you were born, I was at the height of my fascination with cars. They brought you home in a 1988 black Mercedes 300E, swaddled in a hospital receiving blanket over the same nightgown we all wore for our home debut. You were big eyes and a shock of black hair, small toes and clenched fists. You were the sixth daughter to my parents, but you were going to be my best friend, because my older sisters already had a younger sister each to devote their attention to. I was eight years older than you and much too young for driving cars, but all I could think of as I cradled you in awkward arms was that eight years later, I would be sixteen, and you would be as old as I were then-- I promised I would take you for a long drive to Montauk, teach you everything I had learned about engines and vintage cars-- maybe I’d take you shopping, just me and you, right after I got my driver’s license.


IT all began as a blindside-- sometime between my tenth birthday and your second, we had planned to collect twigs in the stretch of trees beside the river to weave into baskets. We were delayed because your shoes doggedly refused to go on without causing you pain, and just like that, the fading of your sunshine began its downward spiral out of our hands. Later, at the hospital, they told us that you had fractured your foot. We racked our brains to try and find an explanation, delicate to admit that we hadn’t even noticed. But the explanation that arrived some hours later on a blood work result sheet telling us that cancer had invaded was not one we wanted to hear.

In the following months, we watched as our parents dissolved into your care and faded from our lives in pursuit of strength to wage war against what threatened to rob us of you. Most nights held you away from home, pale beyond recognition in the depths of a raging fever. Mother kept vigil at your side and father wrestled with the agony of what-ifs, pacing the halls of home and the hospital. Few of us slept in those days for fear of missing a moment of you, so we sought respite in the arms of despair that cradled the house and tried our best to keep hope. For the first time, we were powerless.

On the days you did come home, you were so exhausted and your face, though beautiful as ever, stayed taut with pain. We always wanted to let you sleep, but you would bite your lip instead and ask for a game of scrabble with all six of your sisters. And that was how the tradition of scrabble at every homecoming of yours was born--we’d swallow our tears, silently marvel at your strength and bravery, and pour our hearts into every game. In spite of our worries, those were the best moments of all our days.

And so it continued on for the next year and a half; every phone call home felt like an impending delivery of bad news, answered with fear of the worst, and ended in tears of relief. We grew too swollen with the burden of uncertainty to do anything but choke our tears down with half-hearted dinners that were either undercooked or burnt from neglect. Days became a stoic in and out of lost time, and that was when we met the fog.

It started as a pressure over our heads that we misconstrued as worry, but later, we called it depression, absence, a lack of you, or The Fog. It pinned us to our beds and when it didn’t, it reduced us to the couches, keeping our heads full of misplaced guilt and our stomachs heavy with enough anxiety to keep us from eating. At night, it would retreat for the ten minute call from the hospital’s pediatric oncology ward, and the faces ‘round the telephone radiated the hope we found in unity on either side of the line. But every time we said a goodbye that might have been our last, it rushed in like the tide and tucked itself into our beds to hold us as we cried ourselves to sleep.

The fog thickened during the fortnight you spent in the ICU. They told us to prepare for the worst, so we prayed with more conviction than ever before, grasping at anything we could for a sign that things would be okay. But all the usual omen did not tip in our favor-- the weather matched what we were feeling, storming and snowing all fourteen nights. On Friday morning, we awoke to parted clouds, and the fog went away for longer than usual. It was winter and everything was cold, but there were sun rays falling through the patio glass onto the living room floor, reflecting off of the trinkets about the shelves and everything was illuminated. It was enough to give us hope, and later we learned that your fever had broken. It was all we could do to cry our thanks.

A week later, you came home. The chemotherapy had paralyzed one of your vocal cords and left so little of you behind that there was barely anything to hold. But the fire in your eyes burned so brightly that I could swear the sun was shining through your smile as I fixed a barrette to the one strand of hair that remained. You told us individually that you loved us all, even the rogue housecat that terrified you. Over scrabble that night we sang, and though your voice would never raise to more than a hoarse whisper again, it was the most beautiful voice of all of ours.


I STILL don’t understand. You had been doing so well-- your weight was up, your skin was rosy and your hair had come back in strong, short curls that suited your face perfectly. All of the signs pointed to you making a full recovery, but led us instead to a reality we would never be prepared to face.

In the garage that night, I said a selfish prayer for you to survive as they put you in the car. I knew you were fading, but I remembered the promise I made to you the day I first met you, so I asked for you to live to be a least nineteen-- old enough so that I could teach you to drive, and still have some years left over. I needed you to grow up with me; five years from then, you were going to turn eight and go on that drive Montauk with me. You were going to be my tiny confidant because my heart left no room for alternative options. But life had a different plan, and I found myself sobbing alone on the porch, afraid you were being pulled away from me.

They returned a few hours later without you, red eyes and swollen noses saying everything our throats were too choked to ask. We sat around the house that evening trying to find words to fill the holes in our hearts, but they were much too deep and every word was painful with insignificance.

A month later, I turned twelve and I started to resent you. You should have let me take your place-- I was older, I had lived longer, and you deserved so much more than this. When you left, you took our parents with you, and my oldest sister, too, but honestly, if anyone needed or deserved them most, it was you-- they just haven’t been the same since. There are too many holes we can’t fill.

We learned to stop fighting the fog and it settled in around us instead of bearing down on our heads. I’m nineteen now, you know. I still haven’t taken that trip to Montauk.

Edited for corrections - 7/3/2013.

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20 Reviews

Points: 543
Reviews: 20

Wed Jul 24, 2013 7:54 pm
ScribbleBug says...

Wow. I'm sure you're tired of hearing this, but I want to say that I'm very sorry for your loss. This story was so incredible, I am now sitting here at my computer crying because of how beautifully, wonderfully sad this is. I cant review because the tears streaming down my cheeks say enough.
Sounding like a broken record,

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11 Reviews

Points: 259
Reviews: 11

Sun Jul 14, 2013 1:28 pm
tacimaci wrote a review...

First off, I have to say I am so sorry for your loss. Your sister sounds like a beautiful girl, and I'm sure she's proud of you. Everyone else has said what I wanted to say, but I have to repeat. I can't find a thing wrong with this piece, except maybe describing the depression in a bit more detail. Such a gorgeous story, written for what must have been a gorgeous girl.

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184 Reviews

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Reviews: 184

Sun Jul 07, 2013 4:41 am
RoyalHighness wrote a review...

This was too beautiful for words, let me just say that right off the bat.
The only thing I would change is that you kind of lapse into repetition somewhere near the middle, talking about how paralyzing the sadness was. I know it's to add feeling, but somewhere along the line you started to lose me a little bit. Maybe trim down the middle paragraph about the sorrow, but not too much. Other than that, this moved me to tears. Beautifully written and horrifyingly honest. Splendiferous job.

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27 Reviews

Points: 333
Reviews: 27

Thu Jul 04, 2013 5:30 pm
EmilyofREL says...

I may review with depth later, but for now I'll let the tears in my eyes and the heaviness in my chest speak for themselves. I also lost a and a half years later it still hurts. I commend the courage and strength I know it took to beautifully record your story. Short and poignant.

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159 Reviews

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Reviews: 159

Thu Jul 04, 2013 7:39 am
Skydreamer says...

This was extremely beautiful. I just want to say that I believe that your sister would have been proud of your work and how you wrote this. And that I am so glad that you decided to share it with the world. It brought tears to my eyes.

It was so beautiful.

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263 Reviews

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Reviews: 263

Thu Jul 04, 2013 2:55 am
Caerulean says...

I simply cannot review this... I just want to cry, but it seems my eyes are too dry for the moment, or I'm just in a public place. I feel very sorry for your little sister, and your family as well. But I hope that in the future, you will see the rays of the sun as the light of your sister's eyes, for even though she was caught in a heavy fog, she was strong.

Here's to all cancer victims! May God be with them all. :)

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12 Reviews

Points: 436
Reviews: 12

Tue Jul 02, 2013 2:29 pm
MRHILL92 says...

It wouldn't be fair to call this post a review, because everyone has already posted what I wanted to. I just came here to say job well done. Amazing piece, and I'm sorry for your loss as well.

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52 Reviews

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Reviews: 52

Tue Jul 02, 2013 1:27 pm
catcha01 says...

Juniper this is a truly beautiful story. I'm so sorry for the loss of your sister, and will keep her in my heart. My apologies go out to you and your family, and Once agin this was a truly beautiful and touching story.

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23 Reviews

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Reviews: 23

Mon Jul 01, 2013 12:12 am
pensword says...


thank you for the review. This was a really powerful piece that I can't really bring myself to try and critique. My mom had cancer too, and it was really a terrible time. I'm sorry.

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862 Reviews

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Reviews: 862

Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:50 pm
Griffinkeeper wrote a review...

This is a very powerful piece of work. It isn't necessarily elegant, but raw like a nerve. This makes me hesitate to write a critique.

I STILL don’t understand. You had been doing so well-- your weight was up, your skin was rosy and your hair had come back in strong, short curls that suited your face perfectly.

What is missing here is what changed. One moment you're reflecting on strength, the next moment she is in the hospital. There is a missing link here.

I still haven’t taken that trip to Montauk.

I really liked this ending. You could have ended it with a soppy eulogy or some lame hallmark card. But this ending captured a moment, where you think back and dream of what could have been, with a mixture of bitterness and sadness. It was the perfect way to end this story.

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933 Reviews

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Sun Jun 30, 2013 10:46 pm
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Iggy wrote a review...

Oh, June bug. You're killing me, here. This is just too beautiful for words.

I won't bother with nitpicks, only because there aren't any. This was beautifully written, with deep, emotional words that spoke to me, that echoed your pain, your hope, your despair.

In the second half, you had me thinking she was going to die. Actually, let me rephrase that, I knew she was going to die, but I still hoped. I prayed alone with you, I cringed at the terrible way you described your sister, the way cancer had took its toll on her body. Then you said she came home, and I was so joyous. I thought she had done it, she had beaten cancer!

I was so incredibly sad when I read that, despite her apparent health, she had only gotten worse. It makes me wish this was all fiction.

One thing I wished you had shared was her name. Just her name, so we can have something to associate to this angel, the girl who beat cancer. The angel who watches over you. Names are a powerful thing, and while I understand you'd want to hoard this to yourself, I still ache to know her name.

Again, a powerful piece. Kudos on being able to write it, though I know it must have been hard. I hope that you will show this to your parents and sisters. It was beautiful.

~ Iggy.

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277 Reviews

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Sun Jun 30, 2013 7:28 pm
Master_Yoda wrote a review...

Wow. This is heavy.

Seven years down the line and a eulogy of this magnitude... I really am speechless.

On the literature side of things, I will offer no advice. Melodrama does not befit a piece so real as this, and I don't believe you should compromise this for anything unnatural to you.

You adequately portray your horror at her early death, and leave me a little teary eyed. With the final line you portray the tragedy perfectly.

I’m nineteen now, you know. I still haven’t taken that trip to Montauk.

It is the missed memories that hurt the most.

I'm rarely a fan of upsetting writing. But this is no emotional cry to your audience. It is more genuine than anything else I've read like it.

Thank you for sharing.

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1087 Reviews

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Sun Jun 30, 2013 3:08 pm
Sins wrote a review...

Hey there, June, I have to admit that I've sort of come to admire this more than I've come to review it because I briefly skim read it before review day began, and I thought it was pretty incredible. I think you're insanely brave and admirable for posting this, and I think you've put your emotions into words so beautifully that it's overflowing with heart and meaning. So seriously well done, you're awesome.

I'm not going to bother with any nit-picks because they can be awfully time consuming, and they're hardly necessary, so I'm going to jump straight into my overall opinion by noting what I love about this, and then noting some things I think you could improve on. As I'm sure you've already noticed, I'm a big fan of this story you have here. The technical side of it's great and your grammar and punctuation is more or less flawless, so well done for doing an awesome job on that. What I really love about this though is the way you've managed to expose your emotions, and how you've managed to so in such a graceful way. You're not even the slightest bit melodramatic, and I can tell that every word you've written has a deep meaning. I take my hat off to you, I really do.

Now obviously while this is a personal, sensitive subject for you, I don't want to let that stop me from critiquing what you have here because to begin with, I know you'd much rather me not be afraid to delve into it! And so my first critique is actually something Hannah said, so I'm going to be careful not to sound like a repeat. After finishing reading this, I did find that a lot of your individual stories and details of this piece merged into one. There were standout details and events, but I think there were similarities in a few that caused me to forget some of the minor details. Hannah has mentioned this though, so I'm not going to stress on it because I'll just end up repeating what she's said otherwise. I do think it's something you should think about though.

Something else I'm tempted to suggest is that you actually add in more detail here and there. I know that would be difficult because this must be an extremely sensitive subject for you, so I would understand why you'd chose not to add more detail in. Nonetheless, I do think there are some areas that could benefit from it because it could also help with my first critique because by adding more detail to certain situations, we readers may find it easier to differentiate between those situations. An example of where I think more detail would be beneficial is actually the very first paragraph/part of this: the part where your little sister is very young and healthy.

At the moment, the majority of this story consists of her illness, right? The only time she's healthy is in the first part, and that's what makes me want you to add more to that. I really want to see your sister when she was healthy and entirely carefree because those moments are so precious in my eyes, and I feel their importance should be emphasised. Does that make sense? Other areas where your sister is happy should also be emphasised, in my opinion, even when she's ill. I just think that highlighting these moments as well as the not so nice ones would be very beneficial for the story because it would add more dimensions to it, thus striking harder by the end. Plus I do think that the happy moments are just as important, maybe even more important, than the less happy ones, and so you should show that, y'know?

Other than those two/three critiques, I can't really find anything else to fault this with. That's not just because this is a sensitive subject and I don't want to seem harsh, but simply because your writing is really good here in my eyes, and there isn't much you can improve on. I hope I've helped, even just a little bit, and if you have any questions or comments regarding this review just let me know. Drop me a PM, pop up on chat, post on my wall, reply to this review... whatever suits you! I'll be more than happy to respond as soon as possible.

Keep writing,

xoxo Skins

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1318 Reviews

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Sun Jun 30, 2013 1:59 pm
Hannah wrote a review...

June, thank you so much for putting this into words. It certainly took bravery and emotion to find what you felt was the right way to say this, or at least right enough to share it with us here, and I am so happy that you did. It was moving and poignant.

As for a proper review, I think the biggest thing that holds this piece back is pacing. There's no doubt that your writing is very good, evocative, and clear. It's just that for a reader who doesn't necessarily get nostalgic through every mention of every moment in order, we don't feel as deeply as you when we move through moments that feel, to us, like the ones that come before and after.

These are details I remember vividly: the car plan, of course, which is lovely with the bookends (but would be even sharper if you wrote about the moment you turned 19 and realized this unfulfilled potential future), the scrabble games, the declarations of love to even the house cat, the painful shoes when all you wanted to do was go for a walk. And those are big and vivid moments. But the rest blend together, as I'm sure they might in your memory. It might behoove you to try to pick up the pace and instead of flowing smoothly, make nice quick jumps to the next moments of action. I'm not saying break it off completely, but build bridges through thoughts or flashbacks to achieve what you need to do to keep the piece tight and tugging at us without lulls.

Hopefully this made sense to you. If it doesn't, if you have other questions or comments, please PM me, love. Good luck! You're an inspiration.

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33 Reviews

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Reviews: 33

Sun Jun 30, 2013 11:56 am
elcuidador wrote a review...

Hello Juniper,

This is actually my first story review ever so bear with me. Firstly, I'd like to say that I'm sorry for your loss and pray she will be granted paradise.

Now for the piece we have here. I like the way you describe things, you seem to bring life into the readers eyes and ontrol their emotions and thoughts. Honestly, even though I don't read stories anymore, you had me reading and even rereading some lines to grasp the amount of sorrow you must have been going through. Having that said, I also think you attempted to describe the scenes and the narrations a little to hard. For example, after the message of having unmeasurable grief inside you, sisters and parents, you repeat sending the message to us in an almost identical way. This might have been intentional but I honestly expected it and somehow expected more.

The metaphor of 'The Fog' was something that had me thinking right from the start. It got clearer as I went through with the piece, I'm not sure you meant it but isn't fog like thick and blurry and then clears off? I had the same affect with this piece. It all made sense in the end, I think this was the strongest part of your story, awesome metaphor. Thumbs up.

In the grammatical section of the review I don't have much to say because nothing seemed to stand out to me, other than the few repetitions of adjectives. You also seem to start off your sentences by the word 'but' a lot, which is not a good thing to do considering you want you hook your reader in the sentence and not cut it right off. I could be wrong though since English is not my first language, but hey? Advice is advice and it doesn't harm to take some.

All in all, this is a great emotional peace, even though it got a little too emotional it was still attention-grabbing and would have been a great page-turner if it was longer. Just an opinion, since I personally like stories that tend to lean on the dark and sad side of this life. Keep writing Juniper.


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21 Reviews

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Reviews: 21

Sun Jun 30, 2013 6:13 am
singingwriter1673 wrote a review...

I just want to start off by saying that I am so sorry for your loss. I have a little sister that is 6 years younger than me so I was able to kind of put myself in your shoes. I can't imagine losing her at such a young age and she an I are very close. This piece hit home and was very well written as well.
At first, I thought that the reason for the first word of each section being capitalized was that it had a secret message. When I saw that it wasn't, I shrugged it off but for some reason it bothered me. Just a nitpick on my part. :P
I like how you separated each little part I the story. It gave more intimacy to each section and it made the details seem more...detailed (for lack of a better word :) ).
In the forth paragraph of part II, the "And so" bothered me only because you had used it in the paragraph before. Another nitpick :P sorry! :)
I loooooved the way you explained what the fog was. It gave it more life than if you had just left it at the first sentence of the fifth paragraph. It seemed almost like a person that was hovering over them and was only there to cause bad feelings with the family.

"Over scrabble that night we sang, and though your voice would never raise to more than a hoarse whisper again, it was the most beautiful voice of all of ours."
That was one of the many sentences that clenched my heart. You have a beautiful way with structuring words and sentences that I really appreciate. :)

The last sentence was a perfect ending to a beautifully sad story. So many emotions filled that one sentence and it was a perfect way to tie everything together.

Thank you for sharing such a personal story with us. Please continue writing. You did a marvelous job :D

:D Sarah

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191 Reviews

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Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:20 am
carbonCore wrote a review...

I imagine there will be a lot of positive reviews for this work because of how well-written and realistic it is. And it is both of those things, I will not argue. Thankfully my heart is a shrunken piece of charcoal, so I will be able to talk about it without streams of tears warping my vision of it.

I won't be reviewing grammar, because nothing was glaring at me and all the little syntax-rules they have I'm too dumb to remember and too lazy to check. And, I'll admit it, I was too absorbed in reading this piece. It was relatable, brief, focused... not unlike a good blog entry. Unfortunately, that's all this piece is to me.

It is not a story, because it does not really get anywhere. For me, tears come as I begin to piece the story together in my head and realize something great and deep the author wanted me to see. There is some plot, there is some goal, there is some endpoint that you are trying to reach; some final big picture you are trying to show. Some point. What is the point in this piece, other than to share your burdens with the world? It is sad and I understand all the sadness about it, but that doesn't make it a good story.

But there's more to the story, is there not? This event had many ramifications in your and your family's life. You had shown the event, but no sign of the ramifications. I know they are there, and I know many of them would make good stories each. In this case, this is not a bad story, this is just an unfinished story. What happened to your siblings, your parents? And, the immortal mantra -- don't tell, show. Show a scene which does not outright say all the facts, but a scene which could not exist unless all those facts were there -- and let the reader find them and then piece the clues into the final image in his head himself. His mind will do all the work. (Did you know that proper torture technique in the Middle Ages was to take the condemned into the torture room and to patiently explain to him, in great detail, what each tool was, and what it did to the limbs it was applied to? 60% of people cracked or confessed or confabulated before any physical torture ever began, because their mind made the devices seem infinitely worse than they were.) That's where tears come from. At least in my case.

Your fog,

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155 Reviews

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Reviews: 155

Sun Jun 30, 2013 12:11 am
hockeyfan87 wrote a review...

Being that this was true I find it way too hard to criticize, the minor things that were present just made it more real and more relatable. If it had been written with perfect grammar it wouldn't have impacted me so much, however the slight imperfections allowed the reader to have a more in-depth look and a more realist perspective on the story. I am so so sorry for your loss and I hope you and your family are doing well now, no matter how hard it may be.

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29 Reviews

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Reviews: 29

Sat Jun 29, 2013 11:12 pm
tiggpanda145 wrote a review...

Wow, I cannot criticise this-it is so emotive. I can feel tears in my eyes which is very unusual for me! Thank you for sharing this with me. This story is perfect; the spellings are excellent and the structure and imagery is great too! Well done! I can't think of what else to write-this piece is incredible.

Thank you,


(like dragonrider says, you do have talent-this is the best I've read so far)

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75 Reviews

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Reviews: 75

Sat Jun 29, 2013 9:04 pm
dragonrider wrote a review...

Thank you for sharing this story with me, but so sorry that it happens to be a true one.

There is very little to criticize. It was organized really well, it was written to near perfection, and there were so many emotions occurring in this piece, and I could feel all of them....

"But the fire in your eyes burned so brightly that I could swear the sun was shining through your smile" This is my favorite line.

Through your eyes, I can see how strong/amazing your sister was. This was a very lovely tribute to her...

I hope that one day you can take that trip to Montauk.

You have a lot of talent.

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32 Reviews

Points: 240
Reviews: 32

Sat Jun 29, 2013 8:23 pm
Swiftfurthewarrior wrote a review...

I know this is a true, so therefor I cannot criticize it.
Your spelling was excellent, your spacing perfect, and this story you have chosen to share almost brought tears to my eyes.

I do not know if you still mourn your sister, and if you do,send her my regards.
Fittingly, it's raining right now as God mourns the stolen life of his creation.

Yours truly,

I am and always will be optimist, the hoper of far-flung hopes, the dreamer of improbable dreams.
— 11th Doctor